Author Topic: East Meets West  (Read 3557 times)

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Offline Malkavian Riddler

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East Meets West
« on: March 29, 2019, 09:32:46 PM »
reserved for rainshadowck

Kneeling upon a flattened cushion, Lan Bao let the sounds of the garden wash over her as she meditated. She pushed out the sound of traffic and their irate drivers honking for other people to get out of the way, she cast away the chatter of humans outside the walls and focussed only on what lay in it. The sighing of trees, the rustle of leaves, the patter of insects, the whistle of birds and the soft lapping of water. She smelled the vibrance of nature around her in the open shelter - four pillars and a roof. After a moment she heard the soft steps of Wang Qui Min, who bore a tray with a teapot and two steaming cups.

Leave it, Bao instructed, watching as Qui Min set it down carefully before moving away, though at the door she cast a curious gaze back.

Will you call for me when he comes?

No, I will pour the tea. Go, find your brother. Bao sent, her eyes still closed.

He will not know the respect you offer him, Qui Min said, sending a tendril of regret and a request for forgiveness for speaking after having been dismissed.

Perhaps not, but I will  know it, Bao sent sharply, a frown upon her brow. Qui Min bowed and left Lan Bao before she risked insulting her again. She still had the matter of discovering where her brother had disappeared to, and if he needed help. His thoughts were garbled, like he'd consumed alcoholic blood. It would be the second night he stayed away from the family unit and it was bringing attention and shame to them. She had to find him, fast.

Qui Min was approaching the front gate when she felt his presence - the powerful shadow demon who had been asked to visit. His punctuality would be noticed and regarded as respectful.

"Good evening," she spoke to the air, unsure if Zeus would take a form near to her, but there were shadows all around. "Lan Bao waits for you in the sanctuary. You are invited to make your way there," she said. Signposts in Mandarin and English showed the way. They did not usher their guests, trusting them to look around if they had time, or to go directly to where they were required. Their choice would tell Lan Bao much.
Digital: I drink from the poison chalice
Lan Bao: I reap the harvest of my people
Cain: I am the instrument that vampires play
Shan: I take what is mine and what is yours

Offline The Cedar Witch

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Re: East Meets West
« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2019, 01:43:17 AM »
Zeus made the long journey unseen in the night's shadows of the West District, through Central, and into Chinatown accompanied by two shadow demons.  When he had been invited to meet with Lan Bao, he wasn't entirely sure what to expect.  All he knew of the vampire was that she had declared herself the leader of Chinatown and that this was unacknowledged by the other District Leaders.  With McCloud's hostile takeover of the West, Zeus wondered if McCloud would move to absorb her territory as well. 

Even before the fall of the Oligarchy, he hadn't spent much time in Chinatown and regretted this now as he moved through the shadows in the street.  There was a different kind of city charm here, distinct from the flavor of Central, and he would have liked to linger and watch its inhabitants if not for his appointment.  When the trio approached the front gate, he instructed the others to keep to the shadows outside as they waited.

He remained in shadow when addressed, and moved directly in the direction of the sanctuary after she had finished speaking.  The demon was always punctual and expected nothing less from those he called upon.  It was pleasurable to move through the shadows of swaying trees and various plants in the garden--an entirely different experience than the static ones cast by buildings throughout the city.  It was a dance that required more skill and movement.

When Zeus had sight of where Lan Bao was seated, he emerged from the shadows in his human form to approach on foot.  He was dressed simply in black slacks and a charcoal button-up, sleeves rolled at the elbow.

"Leader Lan Bao," he gave a slight nodding bow at the shoulders, "Thank you for your invitation."
Anna/Odessa/Sonya || Astrid || Chtahzus'aak/Zeus || Extasis || Fler || Jeremiah || Laurent/Va'tamal || Malakai || Rachel || Vai
Old things have strange hungers. - Catherynne M. Valente

Offline Malkavian Riddler

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Re: East Meets West
« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2019, 10:24:55 AM »
Lan Bao knelt surrounded in a puddle of powder-blue fabric, branches and petals decorated the sleeves and hems. When Zeus approached her, she opened her eyes and her gaze found him, latching on like a physical thing. She smiled, as tiny and secretive as the Mona Lisa. She bowed her head slightly to greet him and gestured with her arm for him to sit opposite her. Another red silk cushion was positioned there.

"You are most welcome, Chtahzus'aak. I thank you for meeting with me," she said. Unlike Qui Min who'd spoken without accent, Lan Bao's English sounded as though she'd learnt her second language from the British rather than the Americans, and her words still cut harshly in places where she hadn't made the transition away from her native tongue. Her voice was melodious and light, though there was a secondary tone beneath it that could only by heard by ears other than human, much like a harmony. It enriched her voice while at the same time lending her an ethereal quality. "Please, join me."

He made a magnificent looking specimen in his human form and she thought it fitting that his look matched his reputation - dark, mysterious, hostile. She respected all of those things. Once he was settled, she poured two cups of tea, affording him a great honour as she handed a cup to him. She sipped the hot brew from her own cup, her eyes locked on his face, then lowered it to her lap where she held it between her palms.

"Chinatown is considered part of city central, and now, too, is the west." A tiny vertical line above and between her brows marred her otherwise perfect forehead. "A successful grasp in one hand will only tighten the hold in another, for who would only clench one fist?"
Digital: I drink from the poison chalice
Lan Bao: I reap the harvest of my people
Cain: I am the instrument that vampires play
Shan: I take what is mine and what is yours

Offline The Cedar Witch

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Re: East Meets West
« Reply #3 on: March 31, 2019, 07:19:24 AM »
The pleasant harmony of her voice was not lost on the demon.  He rather liked the way his true name, spoken rarely, sounded on her lips.  Taking his place kneeling opposite the woman, he graciously received the tea with both hands.  Zeus was all too aware of the gaze as he gently sipped almost in unison with her. 

As she spoke the demon was very careful and watchful, eager to absorb any information that this meeting would reveal.  His eyes narrowed briefly at her summery of the powerplay. Right to the point then.  There was the slightest hint of a smirk, which he swiftly hid behind another sip of tea.  His gaze was fixed to the swaying trees in the garden as he thought over her metaphor in silence. 

"Then how shall we become like blistering coals, much too hot to grasp?"  He met her eye with a dangerous glint. 
Anna/Odessa/Sonya || Astrid || Chtahzus'aak/Zeus || Extasis || Fler || Jeremiah || Laurent/Va'tamal || Malakai || Rachel || Vai
Old things have strange hungers. - Catherynne M. Valente

Offline Malkavian Riddler

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Re: East Meets West
« Reply #4 on: March 31, 2019, 12:22:49 PM »
The line smoothed out and the corners of her lips pulled slightly. She was pleased that he wasn't crass or confronting, able to use language in mimicry of her style. It was honourable and she was impressed. She knew little of his time serving the Oligarchy because he had never made his presence known whilst he was her leader. She'd been excited when the city was carved up into territories, for it had offered her a chance to claim her own space. She'd not been greedy and had pulled in her people into Chinatown itself. At first there'd been teething problems as they'd struggled to find residences and the temple garden's meditation rooms had become temporary sleeping areas. Eventually, as all things do in time, with some patience and focus they found solutions. She'd taken her eye off her Oligarch and he'd secreted himself away, but using her Beast Shintai she'd found him using animal eyes and then kept her gaze upon him.

When the west was taken over she'd mourned the loss of life and vowed to involve herself. It would be easy to continue as she had; ignoring the rest of the city with their squabbling and infighting. She'd thought Chtahzus'aak had been of the same mind as her, for he'd separated himself as well... but then a move had been made against him. She took it personally.

"Two burning coals can be extinguished with little trouble, but everyone fears a volcano. Before it erupts, the ground trembles as it gathers force and gains pressure. Then lava spills on all sides."

She brought her cup to her lips and sipped. The tea warmed her insides, but not as much as peering over the rim at the powerful man in front of her did.
Digital: I drink from the poison chalice
Lan Bao: I reap the harvest of my people
Cain: I am the instrument that vampires play
Shan: I take what is mine and what is yours

Offline The Cedar Witch

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Re: East Meets West
« Reply #5 on: April 01, 2019, 12:03:22 PM »
As she spoke of the volcano a smile spread across his lips.  He regarded her intensely before his eyes flickered down to the teacup, lifting it to his still-smiling lips.  What kind of temperament lay beneath her delicate exterior?  He was greatly enjoying her company and conversation.  Lan Bao was discerning and clever, and these were traits that the demon found to make for excellent leadership.  It was little surprise that she had carved out this space in central and held it with little opposition.  She would be a valuable ally.

What exactly was she proposing?

"Lava spreads destruction indiscriminately,"  he thoughtfully replied, “If one could divert the flow to one direction, that would be a terrible power to behold.”  Did he want to decimate a single point?  Better to not need to erupt at all, expending and exhausting energy.  Better to bear the threat of it over their heads to keep them in line.

But somehow McCloud must answer for his greedy actions.  His people, the demons, were calling for his head.
Anna/Odessa/Sonya || Astrid || Chtahzus'aak/Zeus || Extasis || Fler || Jeremiah || Laurent/Va'tamal || Malakai || Rachel || Vai
Old things have strange hungers. - Catherynne M. Valente

Offline Malkavian Riddler

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Re: East Meets West
« Reply #6 on: April 01, 2019, 02:46:07 PM »
She could sense his unease at uninhibited destruction and that was another point in his favour.

"You misunderstand but the metaphor is imperfect," she said apologetically. "I mean for us to strike in one place, together, from all sides. It will be difficult to divert us when attention is split. The more streams we have flowing, the better we can flank and outnumber. There is no point going into battle when the outcome is uncertain."

The wind changed and Bao lifted her chin and closed her eyes momentarily to savour it, her nostrils flaring as she scented many different aromas on the breeze. When she opened her eyes she regarded the man before her and hoped that he would be her champion.

"There is unrest in the north. Two ravens bicker and plan with the west in their eyes. While I would not trust an animal that changes direction as easily as the wind, their breeze could fill our sails. We could also discuss the black witch and the ancient family... I do not know the level of their involvement. They seem... independent. And your former leader, the Luminary," she watched Zeus closely. "He who cheats death has a secret worth knowing. He has influence though struggles to use it. I would hear your thoughts."
Digital: I drink from the poison chalice
Lan Bao: I reap the harvest of my people
Cain: I am the instrument that vampires play
Shan: I take what is mine and what is yours

Offline The Cedar Witch

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Re: East Meets West
« Reply #7 on: April 01, 2019, 11:33:33 PM »
"Forgive me, it has been some time since I had the pleasure of speaking with such a silver tongue."  It was intended to be a compliment, but not so thick with flattery.  His demons were nothing if not direct, sometimes lacking tact.  The imagery-rich language was refreshing and he regretted that the disconnect had somewhat broken the spell. 

Zeus nodded as she continued, familiar with the strategy.  With the advantage of numbers on their side, it would be as simple as surrounding and overwhelming.  It would be foolish to fight back against such a show of strength.  But she spoke to his hesitance: not all factors were yet known.  He watched her in silence as she took in the shifting breeze.

"I do not trust the angels, but they have no love for McCloud."  Enemy of my enemy and so on, though it would be far more useful to use them to distract the power-hungry vampire.  There was a plan he had cooking here but it required other ingredients--this idea hung to the thoughtful tone at end of his words.

"The witch seems to keep to herself, though she has a formidable power that could become an issue.  The Ancients supported her jurisdiction over the South, though their motives still escape me."  Somewhere Zeus suspected that they were pulling unseen strings, but he had no evidence to support this claim.

"As for Galvin,"  he paused, darkness passing over his features.  He disliked the former Luminary.  When there was nothing done to stop the demon-summoning article from being published, leading to the evacuation of Mimic Demons from the city, this dislike intensified.  At any stage of the editing process that articles must go through before being published in a paper, someone could have consulted a demon to make sure that this was some harmless fluff piece.  Such an irresponsible lack of foresight.  Vampires only ever looked after their own.  Having Oligarchs in place for each species was an empty gesture.

But Lan Bao had a point.  Kerr's return from second death was startling and had dangerous implications. 

"He seems reluctant to involve himself in politics,"  Even when he was Luminary there was a sense of this.  Reluctance is weakness in leadership. 

"But coming back from the dead cannot be brushed aside--should this be a sign for some terrible power it would be unwise to ignore it.  Worse still if that power could be transferred to another."
Anna/Odessa/Sonya || Astrid || Chtahzus'aak/Zeus || Extasis || Fler || Jeremiah || Laurent/Va'tamal || Malakai || Rachel || Vai
Old things have strange hungers. - Catherynne M. Valente

Offline Malkavian Riddler

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Re: East Meets West
« Reply #8 on: April 02, 2019, 08:56:26 AM »
She gave a single nod to indicate her forgiveness, pleasure stealing through her at the compliment. She prided herself on the dance of language, for poetry had a finesse and deeper meanings than the blunt swing of open communication. Negotiation was often filled with many paths, and the art of speech kept many of those paths open. She guessed Chtahzus'aak was new to the style but intelligent enough to be skilled with it. With practise and a desire to learn, he might eventually surprise her with his descriptions.

She made a noise of agreement when he mentioned the northern angels dislike for McCloud. Ravens had no love for anyone but other ravens, and sometimes not even then, but she suspected the pair were working together at this point. They were often seen together.

The black witch was an unknown entity to her, as were her spells. Everywhere she cast protection was another shroud of darkness that Lan Bao couldn't penetrate with any of her disciplines. She hadn't cared about the witch's residence, but now the home of the ancient family had the same shroud as did their dance club. She wasn't entirely keeping to herself, though she seemed peaceful rather than hostile. The ancient family were also nobody she wished to trifle with. They lived in a similar fashion to the Kuei-Jin, which meant they would battle together too.

"We must find out if the Ancients and the black witch will involve themselves at all. Neither has spoken for or against, but both of them meet or communicate with the Black Pestilence regularly," she said, revealing her own nickname for McCloud. For him to assign his own title was merely a further demonstration of his own arrogance, and she refused to honour it, instead she would twist it as she saw fit.

She wondered why it was worse for Kerr's power to transfer. Perhaps Chtahzus'aak didn't realise that some powers couldn't be stolen but willingly given. She had never heard of anyone cheating death to such a degree before. The passing of time had been strange as well, which meant something else was happening.

"The Luminary and his family have also suffered a personal injustice from McCloud's party. A reluctant man only needs to be shown the right path upon which to travel. He will respect me but he will be suspicious of my motives. He will respect you and have compassion for your losses. He is but a tiny stream now but with direction, he could summon a flood." The vertical line appeared in the middle of her forehead. "And the Luminary's first boy, the one with the school. He is a conduit used by many. What do you know of him?"
Digital: I drink from the poison chalice
Lan Bao: I reap the harvest of my people
Cain: I am the instrument that vampires play
Shan: I take what is mine and what is yours

Offline The Cedar Witch

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Re: East Meets West
« Reply #9 on: April 02, 2019, 10:20:07 AM »
Chtahzus'aak resisted the urge to laugh out loud at her name for McCloud, and managed to reign in his reaction to raised eyebrows and a smirk.  This was by far his favorite name that he had heard, and it lingered deliciously in his mind. 

"The Ancients appear to have their fingers in many pots, as all parties we've discussed have been seen coming and going from their estate."  Of course, this could be a simple attempt to garner information from the significant players of the city.  Or there was some great plot being woven that had yet to reveal itself.  One did not simply meet with the detestable dark angels for a friendly visit and the exchanging of pleasantries. 

He nodded, albeit reluctantly, as she spoke of the Luminary again.  Zeus knew that one great advantage the demons now had was the injustice committed against them.  In this was a common ground.  As much as he disliked and wanted to avoid Kerr, Lan Bao had a valid point.  He was not incapable of setting aside personal feelings for the sake of strategy.  The demon's absence at the fall of the Oligarchy did not work in his favor, however.  Whether or not this would outweigh the Luminary's capacity for compassion--especially for demons--was yet to be seen. 

"I assume you have heard of the trial," he passed the teacup back and forth slowly between his hands.  "I had one of my people sitting in."  He hoped to not insult her by divulging things that she already knew but continued regardless. 

"The Ancient Patriarch gave the Luminary's fledge to McCloud to mend a slight.  There is hot anger between the fledge and McCloud."  That much was obvious.  The two weren't exactly subtle.  "But, I wonder at this connection between the fledge and the Ancient."
Anna/Odessa/Sonya || Astrid || Chtahzus'aak/Zeus || Extasis || Fler || Jeremiah || Laurent/Va'tamal || Malakai || Rachel || Vai
Old things have strange hungers. - Catherynne M. Valente

Offline Malkavian Riddler

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Re: East Meets West
« Reply #10 on: April 02, 2019, 02:05:09 PM »
"I heard of the trial but did not go. I admit I was suspicious of the event," she said, tilting her head. She'd thought it some kind of trap but whispers had reached her that the trial had been real. When Chtahzus'aak mentioned that the youngling and the Ancient had formed a connection, she gave another nod of affirmation, but she also had no idea what they could possibly have in common.

Her eyebrows raised at the information given her about the transation between the Ancient and McCloud. How strange for him to offer the boy.

"I would believe it more likely that the Ancient manipulates the fledge, if he can hand over someone into slavery. I do not like when people are offered as chattel, no matter if they are willing," she said, forced to assess the ancient one in new light. "Do you have plans to meet with the family?"


Digital: I drink from the poison chalice
Lan Bao: I reap the harvest of my people
Cain: I am the instrument that vampires play
Shan: I take what is mine and what is yours

Offline The Cedar Witch

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Re: East Meets West
« Reply #11 on: April 02, 2019, 10:37:52 PM »
"I had considered it."  No formal plans for a meeting had been made.  He had yet to assess whether or not the Sacramentum were allied with McCloud, and a meeting could clarify this.  One suspicion the demon held was that the Sacramentum were grand puppet masters and McCloud was merely an extension of their will.  But the manner in which the West was seized hardly seemed calculated enough to indicate that there was something grander at play in that regard. 

"I do wonder how Galvin allowed such a thing.  After returning from the dead I would have assumed him to be more protective."  Not that Galvin had the years to match the Patriarch.  And perhaps that was precisely the issue.

"The Ancient and the witch were present at the trial,"  he said after a moment of thought, "While the Ancient was merely a spectator, the witch had sat as Judge.  Whether this speaks to her impartiality or not, I cannot say.  She delivered a guilty verdict and yet passed the sentencing into the hands of the wronged party."  Meaning McCloud, perhaps Ben by proxy but considering the hostility in his testimony he doubted that anyone but McCloud would be making the decisions.  If the vampire and witch were allied that hardly made it an impartial decision.  It all seemed rather orchestrated. 

"The entire trial was apparently quite the spectacle."  he shook his head, amused.
Anna/Odessa/Sonya || Astrid || Chtahzus'aak/Zeus || Extasis || Fler || Jeremiah || Laurent/Va'tamal || Malakai || Rachel || Vai
Old things have strange hungers. - Catherynne M. Valente

Offline Malkavian Riddler

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Re: East Meets West
« Reply #12 on: April 03, 2019, 11:13:42 AM »
Lan Bao had no patience for spectacles so she was glad she did not go. The summary of the event was good enough and rather interesting.

"The trial must have had a different purpose than justice otherwise your people would have had trials themselves," she mused, thinking openly. "Perhaps to display the alliance between McCloud and the Black Witch? We must find out. I will visit Saint Sabrina with a congratulatory gift for her newfound role and she and I will talk. You have the old Luminary and his school boy, and the Ancients to visit."

She sipped the remainder of her tea and watched Chtahzus'aak carefully, to see how her command would be taken. Would he bristle and deny her to suggest his own manoeuvre, or go through with it in spite of disliking being ordered? Would he think nothing of it and agree? (He had been agreeable so far, but their interests were very much aligned). Or would he see it as she'd meant it - that she believed her idea was the best move and he was best suited to make contact with the vampires?

She was excited that she could not predict his reaction; her excitement revealed only by the way her eyes glinted with interest.

Digital: I drink from the poison chalice
Lan Bao: I reap the harvest of my people
Cain: I am the instrument that vampires play
Shan: I take what is mine and what is yours

Offline The Cedar Witch

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Re: East Meets West
« Reply #13 on: April 03, 2019, 11:51:35 PM »
There was a well-hidden flare of anger.  He hadn't expected her to be so forward and command him in a direction.  If he had been in a worse mood and if she had not been so gracious and eloquent he may have had a different reaction than what he presented.  While he valued her counsel, this would not be a trend going forward in their relationship.

"Excellent, precisely what I was thinking."  It didn't need to be true.  She had proposed the smartest move given what they had to work with.  While his position as demon Oligarch was short-lived, he had met the Luminary before.  The witch would likely need a more subtle approach, and this was clearly Lan Bao's strength.  There wasn't anything to argue against.

The demon finished his tea with one sip and gently set the cup down.
Anna/Odessa/Sonya || Astrid || Chtahzus'aak/Zeus || Extasis || Fler || Jeremiah || Laurent/Va'tamal || Malakai || Rachel || Vai
Old things have strange hungers. - Catherynne M. Valente

Offline Malkavian Riddler

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Re: East Meets West
« Reply #14 on: April 04, 2019, 09:39:44 AM »
Lan Bao mirrored his actions so that the empty cups were set down together.

"I am grateful that you do me the honour," she said, respecting his spark of anger. She would have felt much the same and he had been gracious about it. She sensed that she wouldn't be able to push him this way again but he had been lenient with her in their first meeting. The more she interacted with Chtahzus'aak, the more she liked him.

She shifted on the cushion so that she could rock back onto her toes and then stand in one graceful movement, making note of the way his muscles and powerful body moved as he got to his feet as well.

"Qián chéng sì jǐn," Bao said with a bow, then translated for him. "May your future be as brilliant as embroidered cloth." Then she smiled with glittering eyes, knowing that the phrase was considered a strange one for Americans
Digital: I drink from the poison chalice
Lan Bao: I reap the harvest of my people
Cain: I am the instrument that vampires play
Shan: I take what is mine and what is yours